Law, events address sexual violence

by Courtney Woodgate

The rate of sexual victimization for college-aged students (16-24) is at least double every other age group, according to a 2007 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

At universities across the United States, 90 percent of sexual assailants know their victim, either from a party, dating or from classes, according to a 2008 publication by the National Institute of Justice.

Congress passed the Sexual Violence Elimination Act last spring in order to help universities deal with sexual assault.

The SaVE Act has been put into place to modernize the Jeanne Clery Act, which was named for 19-year-old Jeanne Clery after she was raped and murdered while sleeping in her dorm room, according to Security on Campus, an organization dedicated to providing information about safety on college campuses.

SaVE was set into motion to enhance safety for college students. The law allows for student sexual violence victims to change their academic schedules, alter their living arrangements, have a no-contact order put into place against their attackers and have police assistance in dealing with the crime.

SaVE also encourages victims to report crimes of sexual violence to police.

Due to the fact that around 90 percent of female  sexual violence victims know their attackers, fewer than 5 percent of violent acts are ever reported to the police, according to the National Institute of Justice.

The SaVE Act provides an improvement in accountability. It establishes a consistent system of procedures to be followed in cases of sexual violence. This system includes disciplinary proceedings with equal rights for everyone.

SaVE requires universities to update their statistics each fall and the statistics must include date rape and stalking.

Talking about acts of sexual violence is a hard conversation for many to have; therefore it is often pushed under the rug and not dealt with. SaVE requires colleges and universities to have programs to help students talk about it.

A woman who has had a violent encounter should not be scared to talk about it and get help. The goal of SaVE is to change the tolerance for sexual violence and the surrounding silence that surrounds it.

According to the US Department of Justice, students will be more likely to report a sexual assault or violent encounter if they know how to report it and if they know the school will respond to the report.

Whitworth builds awareness through strategically placing resource posters throughout campus, and by hosting events. Whitworth hosted STAND, a campus event organized to bring awareness to sexual violence, on Sept. 29.

Pam Oswalt, counselor at Whitworth University, spoke at this event.

“Whitworth is prepared to deal with sexual violence, and it is OK to come forward about it,” Oswalt said.

If a student is sexually assaulted on campus and it is reported, then Whitworth is required to file a report. However, the student does not have to give his or her name on the report, but only needs to describe the incident.

Kathy Storm, vice president for Student Life, wants students to know there is a resource on campus to help them.

“Sexual assault can happen everywhere; we don’t want to be naive,” Storm said. “We want to provide education and programs that will help people learn more about it, as much as possible to create an environment where it doesn’t happen.”

Storm said she hopes that through programs such as STAND, awareness can be brought to students and they can get the help they need.

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